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Innova’s chrysalis gives way to the Crysta

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 20, 2018

Shooting for the stars The new Innova Crysta features upgraded interiors and exteriors and a much heftier price tag S MURALIDHAR

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Test_drive

The Toyota Innova finally gets a full model change. But will buyers feel that the new Crysta is a bit pricey?



The Toyota Innova has gone through multiple phases since its introduction here over a decade ago. Initially, it was met with suspicion and even a bit of anger because Toyota chose to pull out the Qualis, even though the going was good for the latter. And the Innova seemed expensive to own and maintain compared to the Qualis.

After, hesitant buyers’ initial experiences with the Innova, this model turned out to be the blockbuster model that has since defined the history of Toyota in India. It is the segment benchmark in the multi-purpose utility vehicle category by a large margin. And it has become the default choice amongst institutional and individual buyers looking for the most comfortable peoples carrier there is. The Innova has had a couple of facelifts in the past. But it has been due for a larger, full model change and that is what it has just gotten.

The new Innova Crysta seems to be a reflection of the changing tastes of the Indian car buyer. Unfortunately, while the design and build quality of the Innova attempts to be a bellwether of buyer preferences, its price has seen a disproportionately higher influence of runaway inflation, taking the price of the new model right to the doorstep of entry-level luxury sedans – more about that later. But, first, here is more about the actual car itself.

Design

Indians are trying to discover the sports utility vehicle body style across price segments and categories. The Innova Crysta too gets SUV-styling that is then melded into the MPV body style of the original. The new model is still offered in 7 or 8 seater configurations. It is about 120mm longer than the outgoing Innova, but it shares the same wheelbase. The Crysta also still has a body on frame chassis, but it is now a refreshed IMV platform on which the Innova, the Fortuner and the Hilux are built. Toyota’s new design language for many of its other models now features sharper lines and deeper creases. Cars like the Corolla and the Camry are examples. The hexagonal bonnet grille with its dual chrome slats and the rectangular headlamps with their twin projectors are new features at the front of the new Innova which will remind you of this common design language.

Replacing the older model’s softly curved and angled bonnet is a new deeply creased bonnet slab with design lines that merge into the A-pillar, after emerging from the top of the grille. This gives the new Crysta a bit of crossover flair at the front. Viewed from the side, the new model’s MPV roots comes through strongly, though Toyota designers have attempted to bolster the side profile by adding a few character lines. The wheel arches are more prominent and in addition to the body side line, the rear arch extends to the rear trying to add some more SUV character.

This has allowed the designers to create an over sized rear fender and yet also maximise the size of the tail-gate. The tail-lamps integrate a vertical unit with brake lights and turn indicators and a horizontal tail-gate section with the reverse, fog lamps and stop lamps. Boot loading height is low and it would still be possible to place two suitcases in the Innova Crysta (300 litres) while the third row of seats is being used.

The new model gets a new pair of door mirrors. The waistline continues to run quite high up, but the greenhouse has been increased thanks to the thin roof section and the new larger quarter glass at the rear. This also boosts the amount of light at the third row. Some of the body design lines and ridges in the mirror panel and tail-lamps have been created to reduce wind noise and distortion.

Cabin

The Innova’s cabin was always a pleasant place to be in. While the fit and finish, and comfort levels felt good, and better than the rather lackuster competitors it had, the Innova never felt luxurious. The new Crysta attempts to change that with a plusher cabin. Our test mule was the top trim variant and it gets leather seats, a start-stop button, touchscreen audio with navigation, wood trim inserts on the dashboard and door panels, a multi-function steering wheel with stitched leather and wood trim, cooled glove-box and even ambient mood lighting for the scooped out sections in the roof panel.

The cabin definitely feels like a big upgrade with the choice of panel colours and trim options. The dual layered centre stack, the curvy dashboard panels and the nicely bolstered seats make this Innova feel much more thought through and driver focused than the previous models. Most Innovas in India are probably chauffeur-driven and the rear passengers also get to experience the premiumness and space. Front seats can be pushed forward by the middle row occupants with the mere flick of a handle. Access to the third row is also easy with the one-touch tumble feature for the second row. Automatic rear aircon also gets a digital display and controls.

Performance

The Innova used to be offered with petrol engines in the past, but the demand was extremely low. So, the new Crysta gets two new engines – both diesel, and both manage to deliver segment leading power and torque. The 2GD-FTV 2.4-litre, turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine is paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox and the 1GD-FTV 2.8-litre, turbocharged, also 4-cylinder engine, is paired with the new 6-speed sequential shift automatic gearbox. While the 2.4L engine offers 150PS of peak power and 343Nm of torque, the 2.8L engine puts out 174PS and 360Nm of power and torque respectively.

Both the engines offer loads of low-end torque and manage a higher power to weight ratio despite a 12 per cent jump in kerb weight. We always tend to like manual transmissions and so it wasn’t surprising that the smaller engine felt quicker off the block. The automatic gearbox felt slower, possibly because of more widely spaced ratios. But linear acceleration is effortless and in addition to the Eco and Power mode in the manual, the auto also gets sequential manual shifts with the stick.

Bottomline

The Innova Crysta gets a load of features that make it feel more like a premium crossover. The steering is lighter and more car like, the gear shift stick is much shorter, though shift quality could have been better and we would have liked vibration levels to be lower. The jump in features and quality of materials used in the cabin is a big boost to the new Innova Crysta’s appeal. But it is still short of the kind of finish quality that you would see in the German three’s cars.

That is where the top trim Innova’s price will be a deterrent. At ₹21.2 lakh, the 2.8ZX AT is now nearly in competition with entry luxury sedans. The price of the Innova has now gone up across the range, with starting prices now at ₹14.13 lakh for the manual and ₹16.36 lakh for the automatic.

Published on May 19, 2016

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